J&A Automotive is an Airdrie, Glasgow based specialist Volkswagen Group service & repair centre offering routine servicing, maintenance, mechanical repairs and performance upgrades. As they celebrate their one-year business anniversary, we popped in to chat with co-owner Alanna Balfour about a turbocharged last 12 months.
Starting a new business in the middle of a pandemic, how’s that worked out?
It’s gone really well. My partner and co-owner Jordan had always wanted to open his own garage and I have always loved cars, I worked in a performance car tuning company until I lost my job during the pandemic. So, in August 2020 we decided to go for it and we haven’t looked back since. It’s given us the freedom to do our own thing and we are so glad we have done it.
How has your business developed in the last twelve months?
We started out in a small unit. By May 2021, we had outgrown it and decided to move to a new, bigger site. We added a new ramp and have built up a strong client base, including a lot of local customers and those from the performance and modifier community, which we are heavily involved with.
Tell us more about being a specialist centre?
We offer routine servicing, maintenance, and mechanical repairs, with an emphasis on Audi, Volkswagen, SEAT & Škoda vehicles. There is also the performance upgrade and tuning side of the business. We get a lot of customers booking their vehicles in for upgrades, engine remapping and modifications, with being part of that performance and modifier community, we love the opportunity to work on these cars.
It sounds like your passion for cars drives the business?
It really does. It doesn’t really feel like work, as we both enjoy what we do and just love working on the cars. Our car enthusiast customers, as we do, take real pride in their cars and we apply that ethos to our business. We enjoy making other people’s car dreams come true and making sure that they receive the best service possible.
Tell us more about your own cars?
Currently, Jordan has a bagged Mk7 Golf R and I have a SEAT Ibiza Cupra that’s been quite heavily modified. We show the cars at performance and modifier events, and they have become good promotional tools to showcase the business. The unit is always buzzing with car enthusiasts and as we are a big part of that community, it really helps us to connect with the customers.
Describe your relationship with TPS. How do they help you as a business?
TPS Glasgow North East is absolutely brilliant. They are so helpful and as we use a lot of Volkswagen Genuine Parts for customers’ cars, they provide a great service in getting those parts to us when we need them. We do a lot of Haldex and DSG servicing and the TPS team are very good at supporting us with what we need for that type of work.
Is there any aspect of the TPS service you find particularly beneficial?
It’s a very professional service, based on good personal relationships with their team. Becky, who we deal a lot with when ordering parts, has a lot of expertise and knowledge and is always there to help us as much as possible. Our Account Manager Ross is also a great support to the business. When we opened the new unit he came to visit us straight away, and that interest in the business and what we do, is very much appreciated.
What’s the plan for the next 12 months?
When we started out, I never thought we would get to this point in such a short space of time, so for now we will focus on consolidating what we have. I would like to take on a female apprentice, as I think it’s important to have more women working in the industry. It’s something Becky and I both talk about a lot! Overall, the new premises are the right size for the business as it is now and so we just want to keep enjoying what we do.
Click here to read our full interview with Alanna and catch up on any past interviews.